The appellate courts are busy making law . . . and I’m busy keeping up.

June has been a busy month, yet at the same time a relaxing one with a much-needed vacation. This month, the appellate courts haven’t let up.  I haven’t let up either, staying on top of the recent published decisions out of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Supreme Court.  However, I just haven’t been able to write my usual blog summaries of … Read More

A Circumstantial DUI, A Case of Be-Careful-What-You-Ask-For, and the Kathleen Kane Case

Comm. v. Gooseby-Byrd, 2018 PA Super 134 (May 23, 2018) This was an appeal out of Delaware County.  This was a DUI case charged under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(a)(2), which indicates Appellant’s blood-alcohol level (BAC) was relatively low—here, 0.88% (just over the legal limit). The facts are relatively straightforward, and this case was resolved due to a credibility determination by … Read More

Word choice is important . . . and so is a thorough review and timing.

Comm. v. Dempster, 2018 PA Super 121 (May 8, 2018) This is an appeal before an en banc panel of the Superior Court, which arose out of Delaware County.  The issue on appeal concerns the scope of the appellate court’s independent review when an attorney files an Anders brief and seeks to withdraw from a case.  Different panels of the … Read More

A “Stalking Horse”?

Appeal out of Lancaster County. This appeal involved issues of a parolee’s privacy interests under the Fourth Amendment and what is known as the “Stalking Horse Doctrine”—i.e. the idea of a probation/parole officer essentially acting in a capacity of a police officer.  The essential facts giving rise to this appeal were these. The appellant, Carl Gould, had been on parole.  … Read More

One for probable cause and five against equals suppression

This was a direct appeal out of Montgomery County.  The issue on appeal pertained to the search of Davis’s car and whether that search was constitutional.  The uncontradicted facts taken from the suppression hearing were these. At approximately 1:25 a.m., police officers responded to a scene of a reported car accident in a residential neighborhood.  The officers were Officer Bryne … Read More

Is an arrest warrant for one person good to enter and search another person’s home?

This discretionary appeal resulted in a plurality opinion, splintering the Supreme Court’s seven justices into roughly two equal camps.  The issue on appeal, simply stated, was this: is an arrest warrant for a suspect sufficient enough to gain entry to another person’s home to arrest the suspect?  In other words: is the third party’s Fourth Amendment guarantee to be free … Read More

The Superior Court has been busy.

Comm. v. Bowers, 2018 PA Super 88 (Apr. 16, 2018) Appeal out of the 39th Judicial District, Franklin County Branch.  The Superior Court held that an appeal from an order granting the Commonwealth’s forfeiture petition is interlocutory and not appealable. Petitions for return of property and petitions for forfeiture concern the same substantive issue, i.e., who is entitled to possession … Read More